Ebenezer Hazard

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Ebenezer Hazard
United States Postmaster General
In office
January 28, 1782 – September 26, 1789
Preceded byRichard Bache
Succeeded bySamuel Osgood
Personal details
Born(1744-01-15)January 15, 1744
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, British America
DiedJune 13, 1817(1817-06-13) (aged 73)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
EducationPrinceton University (BA)

Ebenezer Hazard (January 15, 1744 – June 13, 1817) was an American businessman and publisher. He served in a variety of political posts during and after the American Revolutionary War: as Postmaster of New York City; in 1776 as surveyor general of the Continental Post Office; United States Postmaster General where he served from 1782 to 1789.

In 1792 he published the first English translation of A Short Account of the Mohawk Indians, their Country, Language, Figure, Costume, Religion, and Government (1644), compiled from letters written by Dutch minister Johannes Megapolensis to friends about his years of ministry near present-day Albany, New York.


Hazard was born in Philadelphia and educated at Princeton University. He established a publishing business in New York City in (1770), but quit that business after five years. He was appointed first postmaster of the city under the Continental Congress.

In 1776, he was appointed as surveyor general of the Continental Post Office. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1781.[1]

In 1782 Hazard succeeded Richard Bache as the United States Postmaster General, serving until 1789. (From 1785 to 1790, New York City served as the capital of the United States.) During his tenure as Postmaster General under the new Federal Constitution, Hazard reorganized the Post Office. He established a system to transport mail by stagecoaches on main routes in order to increase capacity, displacing the old horse and rider system.[2]

Hazard did not keep President George Washington's favor, however; because during the Constitutional Convention, he had put a stop to the customary practice by which newspaper publishers were allowed to distribute copies by mail.[3] Washington wrote an indignant letter to John Jay about this action. He said that it was doing "mischief" by "inducing a belief that the suppression of intelligence at that critical juncture was a wicked trick of policy contrived by an aristocratic junto." As soon as Washington could take action, he had Hazard replaced by Samuel Osgood. As a member of the old Congress Osgood had served on a committee to examine the post-office accounts.[4]

After being replaced, Hazard moved back to Philadelphia. He helped to establish the Insurance Company of North America in that city. He worked at this until his death. Long interested in history,[2] in 1792 he printed the first English translation of Johannes Megapolensis' A Short Account of the Mohawk Indians, their Country, Language, Figure, Costume, Religion, and Government, first published in the Netherlands in 1644. It was a record of the Dutch missionary's observations of the Mohawk and their territory west of Albany, New York during the period of Dutch rule. Megapolensis is considered the first Protestant missionary to Native Americans.[5]

Hazard also published at Philadelphia his two-volume Historical Collections; Consisting of State Papers, and Other Authentic Documents; Intended as Materials for an History of the United States of America. The first volume appeared in 1792 and the second in 1794.


  1. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter H" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Ebenezer Hazard to Dudley Woodbridge, 1781". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2011-05-10. Ebenezer Hazard (1744-1817) was a businessman and amateur historian whose public life was tied in with the post office. In 1775 he was appointed postmaster of New York City. Hazard advanced in his job and was named to the position of Surveyor General of the Constitutional Post Office in 1776, a role he still held when this letter was written. Shortly thereafter, in 1782, Hazard rose again, this time to the position of Postmaster General. ...
  3. ^ Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard (ed.) (1986). Commentaries on the Constitution: Public and Private, Volume 4, 1 February to 31 March 1788. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society. p. 541. ISBN 0870202456. Retrieved 9 January 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Henry Jones Ford, Washington and His Colleagues - A Chronicle of the Rise and Fall of Federalism, 1918. The Chronicles of America Series, Gutenberg project
  5. ^ Wilson, James Grant (ed); Fiske, John (ed) (1888). Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography Vol. 4. New York: D. Appleton & Co. pp. 286–287.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

External resources[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Bache
United States Postmaster General
Succeeded by
Samuel Osgood